Our idea of what constitutes "food" in American culture has become so skewed that it is almost unrecognizable. Our supermarkets are packed with products whose ingredients include unpronounceable chemicals, dyes, bacteria, and growth hormones. They are irradiated without our consent and contain GMOs.It's time to bring back FOOD. Pure unadulterated organic RAW food.This blog is a documentation of my continuing journey on a plant-based lifestyle.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dear Santa Monica, I really LOVE you!

 Kevin and I are hopelessly in love with Santa Monica. From the parking to it's walk-ability, the beach, and our sister Co-Op that is teaming with raw food granola, chunks of energy, and spices galore -- we're utterly smitten. Since we discovered that our San Diego Co-op card works in Santa Monica as well, we've been going there every weekend for the past month. We just get our snacks and walk around for hours checking out stores, hitting up the goodwills, and walking along the beach just talking.

Then, on the way home we hit up our favourite health food store in Culver City, Rainbow Acres to stock up for the week. This store is rediculously awesome as they always have tons of sales going on. For the past few weeks they've had Zico Coconut Water on sale for $2.49 for a Liter! Hold me back! Hold me back! I've had an ongoing coconut water obsession since I was first introduced to Bikram like 3-4 years ago and anytime I can get it on sale I go a little bit crazy. I'd probably buy out the whole store if Kev wasn't there to reign me in!

Here are some of my finds this weekend:


I had only ONE MRM Enzyme left! Ahhh! So instead of going into a panic because the Co-Op didn't carry them, we bought these instead: Organic Tummy Soothers! And soothe they did! They are gloriously packed with ginger, fennel, coriander, peppermint oils, etc. No added sugar either! We paid $4.99 for the pack and I haven't seen these anywhere else so I can't really compare the price, but they work, so I consider it a good deal.


Pardon my slice of leg. This was bulk raw granola by the people who make all the Go Hunza products. This was a mix of Really-Raw Austrian Pumpkinseed Granola and Really-Raw Mulberry & Walnut Granola. It was a whooping $14.99 a pound which I am not a fan of BUT, if you buy it online or already packaged from a health food store it is only about $5.00. For me, this is a HUGE splurge and I don't buy very much. Unfortunately, here, taste rules over price. The granola has a great crunch to it, and still some bites are chewy and soft. I used to be a big cereal eater, like I'm talking about eat-nearly-a-whole-box-in-one-sitting kind of cereal eater and this stuff is so delicious that I'd like to eat the whole bin...You cannot ask for a better raw granola!

Mmm. they also make this other bar that I am madly in love with:


It's soft, slightly sweet with a splendid Vanilla flavor to it.  What makes this bar so life-altering is that after you taste the vanilla, this little spicey bite comes through and hits the back of your tongue -- like a little zing to match the fruitiness. Loooveee it. It's really filling too so when you pay $3.00 for a bar, it's like you are getting a whole meal packaged into this great bar! And i'm pretty much down for anything that has chia in it so I was sold even before I tasted it...

Ugh, I worship GoHunza... 
On the way to Rainbow Acres we stopped at this other health food store that we've never been to before called Vitamin Warehouse. It was very tiny and mostly well, vitamins, but we did find some steals.


Organic Hempseed for $4.99!!! I've honestly never paid less than $8.00 for any brand of hempseeds. We couldn't pass these up. Hempseeds are my fav of all favs! I use them in everything; sauces, burgers, shakes, smoothies, on top of smoothies, granolas, you name it! 



From the same store, this Shaman Organic Aloe and Orange hair gel for anti-frizz. We got it for .99 cents! Yes, you heard correctly, .99 cents. It smells divine! I normally don't put all this goopy glop in my hair anymore, but when I go home and the water is different, I always need a little something. The man from this store was so sweet! I don't think they get that many customers so I was happy to purchase from him and support a little store. What a doll, he told us if we couldn't find anything we needed to call him and he'd order it for us!

And then from Rainbow Acres we got a bunch of stuff like the liter of Zico that I mentioned, but my prized purchase from that night was a green juice that I got for $1.75 made fresh that morning!




 Granted it is in a plastic bottle and I am pretty sure some of the nutrients have oxidized from sitting, I think any green juice is better than no green juice.

During the course of our travels Kevin got really hungry so we decided to go to this raw restaurant in Santa Monica that we've heard a lot about called Better Life Cuisine. We ordered our food to go since we still wanted to walk around. My opinions on this place are mixed. I told Kevin to stick to getting desserts because 85% of the time when you go to a raw restaurant here in Cali. the portion sizes are grossly small, like they are serving a mouse or something. He would have none of it. So he ordered the Manicotti against  my better judgement.

The result: This.




This was literally five slices of zucchini rolled with an overly watery mock ricotta topped with gravy and sprouts (???). The portion size was appetizer AT BEST. The price, ::gasp:: $11.00!!!!!!!!! Insanely, disgustingly, awfully, not worth it AT ALL. I watched the guy make it and with it my zen, calmness slowly but surely diminished. Why does raw food have to mean a sacrifice of protion size? I understand people need to make money, I'm a raw food chef too, but when I charge my clients $11.00 for a meal I give them $11.00 dollars worth. Kev said it was nothing to write home about; it didn't taste bad, but it also wasn't that good -- straight from his mouth. We were both confused about why there were sprouts. The biggest turn offs were that the food was FREEZING and within two seconds of getting out the door it turned into a watery mess, manicotti no longer recognizable. We agreed, when it comes to raw food LA area we stick to Sun Power Natural Foods in Studio City. Best raw food. Best price. Great portions.  God, I miss my NYC raw foods.

His manicotti came with a side so we ordered the Egg Salad:


                          

What the manicotti lacked, this egg salad could almost make up for. It was creamy with chuncks of celery and bits of onion that were surprisingly not overpowering.  It tasted so authentic I could hardly believe it. There was even something slightly soft in there that resembled an egg-y texture that has me totally stumped. I've got to find out what it is! Unfortunately for Kev, the portion of this egg salad was, if you can believe it, larger than his manicotti portion! Poor Kevy! He hates egg salad too so he basically just ordered this for me. Seems like, if you are going to go to Better Life Cuisine I would stick to this kind of stuff over the actual "entree" as this was out of this world!

We also ordered two desserts: Oatmeal Cookie and Spirulina Macaroon


                         



The Oatmeal cookie was just o.k. and it didn't really taste anything like an oatmal cookie. In fact, it actually tasted like apple pie (???) which I didn't mind, but I was kind of looking foward to the Oatmeal, so it was slightly disappointing. Kev did not like this at all. He said it was too hard to chew. We paid $3.00 for 2 cookies. Not so sure I would do that again.

And the macaroon was pretty bad. It didn't taste like anything, not even coconut! And it fell apart as soon as I picked it up. I love macaroons and to be honest, I think they are pretty hard to mess up so this left me quite befuddled. Maybe it was just a bad batch? I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt...

 Maybe I'm just too used to Pure Food and Take Away macaroons (::swoon::) or this awesome little company, Emmy's Organics that makes these wounderful macaroons that they sell on the East Coast. They are wildly delicious -- chewy, chewy, chewy and sweet! Wonderful! The lady and her husband like make them out of their own kitchen as a side project! The Vanilla Chai was always my fav. but they make a really yummy Mint Chocolate Chip.




Overall opinion: I do not think the food is worth the price esp. since the portion sizes were so small. I have no problem paying when the food is really good. I mean, I'd sell my soul for a Sarma $6.00 Mallomar and I'd pay big bucks (like way more than its already $14.00) to sink my teeth into Quintessense's Fofu Benedict, but for this place, ugh, ::sigh:: there is nothing I would really deem worthy.  The egg salad was redicliously good, but that is about it. The only other thing I'd like to go back there to try are the Cinnamon Buns and now I am equally weary of that! My advise, order at your own risk.

Oh, and by the way, if it were me that ordered the manicotti I would have taken it back and asked for a refund or a slice of their bread to go with it to at least bulk up the meal. But, alas, my Kev is not that type. I guess this makes me a biatch, but I feel, hey, i'm the one paying for this, shouldn't I get what a pay for? In the very least an entree sized portion???

 I mean, you get more for your money when you order a freaking Nori roll than with this portion of manicotti, that's kind of pathetic...

Have any of you ever had this experience at raw food restaurants? How do you react esp. when the food you get isn't that great??

I look foward to your responses!!!

In the words of Lisa Simpson,

Mulch Love,
 Raw Food Nerd

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Product pictures from product websites/google images unless obviously taken by RawFoodNerd.